|Dr. Benjamin Natelson at the|
MassCIFIDS Spring 2012 Educational Forum
|Dr. Gudrun Lange, Ph.D.|
In April I attended the Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association (MassCFIDS) Spring 2012 educational forum, co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Health, featuring Dr. Benjamin Natelson, Director of the Pain and Fatigue Center at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, as the keynote speaker. In a surprise double-header, Dr. Natelson's wife, Dr. Gudrun Lange, Ph.D., a Neuropsychologist and a professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, spoke about how neuropsychological testing is used in CFS and FM patients. Dr. Natelson's lecture was titled "CFS Diagnosis: Are You a Lumper or a Splitter" and asked the question whether it is more beneficial to lump all conditions in which severe fatigue is a significant symptom - from CFS to FM to MS - into one group or to split patients into subgroups. Dr. Natleson was clearly in the "splitter's" camp. His 20 plus years of research proved that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and post-Lyme disease are separate medical conditions and should be treated as such. Dr. Natelson went a step further and divided CFS patients into subgroups as well, such as CFS patients with and without psychological disorders (usually depression). Dr. Natelson's approach of splitting patients into subgroups, depending on symptoms and related conditions, aligns with his theory that there are most likely several causes for CFS, and the subgroups help to narrow the pool of patients in order to determine specific causes.
HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS: By using advanced techniques in medical science, Dr. Natelson is close to finding biomarkers to diagnose CFS! His research indicates the likelihood of a brain disorder as the cause for a specific subset of CFS patients. Dr. Natelson was recently awarded a federally funded grant from NIH to continue with his findings and he is looking for patients – both with CFS and healthy controls – to participate in his study. For more information, go to www.painandfatigue.com or call (212) 844-6747.
Dr. Lange discussed the process for neuropsychological testing for CFS patients. Without the identification of the type of biomarkers that Dr. Natelson is currently researching, neuropsychological testing is presently the accepted standard to qualify for Social Security disability for CFS patients. Dr. Lange stressed that not all neuropsychologists are trained to test for the types of deficits common in CFS and that patients should seek out professionals who have experience in testing for CFS.
As a volunteer for MassCFIDS, I offered to write up both presentations for their website. I was holding off on posting this information until we got approval of the article from Dr. Natelson. The article is now up on the MassCFIDS website, so for a more detailed summary, please go to: